Pajaro Valley Arts Dia de los Muertos exhibit
Pajaro Valley Arts’ “Mi Casa es Tu Casa” art exhibit includes a packed series of events well beyond its Watsonville gallery.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
City Life

BOLO Best Bets: Halloween is all around us, with vertical concerts as soundtrack

Friends, we’re guessing that you don’t need us to remind you that Halloween has arrived, which means that even a trip for takeout tacos can be a party if your face is painted green and you’re wearing a floor-length red cape. The fun will be just about everywhere, but just in case you need a little direction, Santa Cruz Cinema is playing classic horror films in a marathon, Pixar’s brilliant “Coco” is being shown outdoors at Watsonville Plaza, and we’re betting that Cowell Beach is going to be a pretty sweet spot for a bit of overspill music from the Dream Inn’s back-to-back vertical concerts. For at least one weekend, all of Santa Cruz is one giant “Lost Boys” set.

— Wallace Baine

Lookout Santa Cruz’s BOLO (Be On the Lookout) calendar is “your place to go for things to do” in Santa Cruz County.

See our full BOLO calendar listings for events in Santa Cruz here. And as if that isn’t enough, we have you covered for all the MAJOR events coming up into the next year with Down The Line, a listing assembled by Wallace Baine that’s your key to getting tickets before they sell out.

Now, here’s what Team BOLO thinks you should know for the weekend and beyond:

(Click category headers for full BOLO listings in that category.)


A promotional flyer for Santa Cruz Cinema's Classic Horror Film Fest

Classic Horror Film Fest: Some of the most famous horror flicks and creature features of all time come to Santa Cruz Cinema well into the evening. There will be five movies, including “Frankenstein” and “Dracula,” playing at different times, so be sure to check out Santa Cruz Cinema’s website for specific times and theater information. A great way to get in the mood for Halloween weekend.

Screening: “Foodie for the People”: The Del Mar Theater downtown hosts a free screening of a documentary about well-known local chef Jozseph Schultz of India Joze. The documentary looks into Schultz’s life and the community and culture he’s created around his restaurant. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the screening is required. Foodies and Santa Cruz historians, take note.

— Max Chun


Patti Smith at the Dream Inn
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Big Brother & The Holding Company: The name is as evocative of the hippie era as any other. All boomers recognize Big Brother & The Holding Company as that fiery blues band that provided the musical mojo for the immortal Janis Joplin. More than 50 years down the road, BB&HC is still burnishing its psychedelic blues sound behind founding member Peter Albin. On Saturday, Big Brother plays its first “vertical concert” at the Dream Inn, so tickets are not — to paraphrase the group’s greatest album — a “cheap thrill.” But how much is “another little piece of my heart” worth to you?

AJ Lee & Blue Summit: To welcome Halloween revelers, Felton Music Hall is presenting what it’s calling a “Boograss Spooktacular” by booking mandolinist AJ Lee and her band Blue Summit. Lee grew up and learned her craft in Santa Cruz, and has since been recognized by the Northern California Bluegrass Awards as Best Female Vocalist an astonishing nine times. Lee and her band — named for the Summit House Beer Garden & Grill at the summit of Highway 17 — come to Felton on Saturday to showcase their new album, appropriately titled “I’ll Come Back.”

Pablo Cruise: Let the rest of the world go nuts trick-or-treating. As part of the Dream Inn’s vertical concert series, you can get a room and a show from the veteran group that embodies “yacht rock” like no other. Pablo Cruise is a band with Bay Area roots that became a big hitmaker in the late ’70s, thanks to earworms like “What You Gonna Do?” and “Love Will Find a Way.” In this case, wear a captain’s hat and a Hawaiian shirt, order a tropical drink, and you got Halloween covered.

Beats Antique: Halloween is almost beside the point when it comes to the trio Beats Antique, whose live shows slip into an enchanting, sometimes eerie alternative world every day of the year. Fronted by charismatic belly dancer and ringleader Zoe Jakes, the theatrically inclined group embraces a wide swath of traditions outside the American mainstream, from French gypsy jazz to Balkan wedding music to Middle Eastern grooves. As much a circus performance as a straight concert, Beats Antiques shows already reach for the otherworldly. Imagine what they’re planning when they headline at the Catalyst on Halloween.

Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers: All hail the larger-than-life jazz diva Lavay Smith, still going strong from her home base in San Francisco tending the flame of jump blues, salsa, bebop, R&B, and vocal jazz for 30 years. The lovely Ms. Lavay and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers have played Santa Cruz so often someone needs to name a sandwich (or, better yet, a spicy breakfast plate) after them. Hear them reach back into the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s in their set list, and fill every square inch of the Kuumbwa Jazz Center with their sound Monday.

— Wallace Baine

This month, Arts Council Santa Cruz County invited you to explore over 300 artist studios during the Open Studios Art...


Pajaro Valley Arts 2021 Dia de los Muertos exhibit
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

“Mi Casa es Tu Casa”: It’s a big month coming up at the Pajaro Valley Arts gallery, as PV Arts mounts its ambitious “Mi Casa es Tu Casa” art exhibit with a packed schedule of events. The theme for this year’s event is “History, Loss, and Healing,” with a long roster of participating artists including Amalia Mesa-Bains, Carmen Leon, Priscilla Martinez, Shmuel Thaler, Myra Eastman and many others, all at the PVA gallery, 37 Sudden St., downtown Watsonville. Events related to the exhibit include ...

“Coco”: Pixar’s beautiful and heartbreaking animation “Coco” will be screened Friday at the Watsonville Plaza alongside other live Día de los Muertos celebrations, including dancing, music and memorial ofrendas. It all starts at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon, as well as ...

Candlelight vigil: On Saturday at the Watsonville Plaza, a candlelight vigil will be held in the spirit of Día de los Muertos, followed by a screening of the documentary “Common Ground” and then hot cocoa and pan dulce at the PVA gallery. It all starts at 5 p.m.

“Homecoming”: The Radius Gallery at the Tannery is the site for a remarkable showing of new art from five local artists, each having been evacuated during the 2020 CZU fires in Santa Cruz. Dan Hennig (sculpture), Laurie Hennig (sculpture), Todd LeJeune (painting), Leslie Morgan (mixed media, painting, resin) and Margaret Niven (painting, printmaking) all created works to reflect their experiences in the aftermath of the fires. The Radius is open Wednesdays through Sundays noon-5 p.m. and by appointment. The show runs through Nov. 7. Yep, it’s free.

— Wallace Baine


The comedian Paula Poundstone

Paula Poundstone: Those who follow comedian Paula Poundstone on Twitter know that she regularly shares photos of the random chairs she occupies shortly before taking the stage at venues across the country. That means some modest chair backstage at the Rio Theatre is about to have its star moment. The relentlessly upbeat and curious stand-up comic and regular on NPR’s “Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me” (and the host of the absurdly titled podcast “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone”) makes her umpteenth visit to Santa Cruz on Friday.

— Wallace Baine


Children in Halloween costumes frolic through woods

Chaminade Fall Festival: The Chaminade kicks off Halloween weekend with things to enjoy for all ages. The resort overlooking Monterey Bay is hosting a costume contest, family games and a haunted forest, with food and drink vendors including Humble Sea Brewing Co. and Bargetto Winery.

Midtown Fridays: The weekly Midtown summer block party is calling it a wrap for 2021 with its final event of the season. More than 30 vendors and live music, as well as the crazies from Off the Lip Radio, will all converge at 1111 Soquel Ave. (next to the fire station). The fun starts at 5 p.m. and runs until around 8:30 p.m.

Roaring Camp Harvest Faire and Steam Festival: Fall is here and the Roaring Camp Harvest Faire and Steam Festival is leaning into it. The festival has tons of fall activities like scarecrow making, pumpkin patch picking, candle making and gold panning. There will also be a variety of steam- and belt-powered equipment on display at Roaring Camp.

Halloween at the Boardwalk: Halloween at the Boardwalk returns with trick-or-treating from noon to 7 p.m. — and a $12 ticket gets a collectible bag and a $10 MyBoardwalk card. There will also be a costume contest and a fright walk maze for those seeking a scare.

— Haneen Zain and Wallace Baine


People dressed as witches on stand-up paddleboards in the Santa Cruz harbor

Santa Cruz Harbor Witches Stand-Up Paddle: Rent a paddleboard from the SUP Shack and paddle around the harbor in full Halloween attire. While the price for an hour of paddling is $35, the proceeds will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank. Put your costume on and spend a couple hours paddling around the harbor for a good cause.

— Max Chun


A headstone in the Boulder Creek Cemetery

Halloween Scavenger Hunt at the Boulder Creek Cemetery: Head to Boulder Creek for a family-friendly scavenger hunt this Halloween weekend. Dress up in your costumes to fully immerse yourself in the festivities and celebrate the holiday in style with the whole family.

— Max Chun


A flyer for the Boardwalk Bites and Brews festival

Boardwalk Bites & Brews: Happening every Thursday and Friday through Nov. 19, the Boardwalk’s private event chef, Scott Meyer, delivers food paired with beers from Santa Cruz and beyond. This week’s dishes include crab toast, pork buns and street dogs. You can pair this event with music and movies, too: There will be a live band at nearby Neptune’s Stage on Thursdays from 6:30-7:30 p.m. (the Joint Chiefs are this week’s act), and movies on the beach at 6:30 p.m. Fridays (this week featuring Santa Cruz vampire classic “The Lost Boys”).

Halloween-style Food Truck Friday: Scotts Valley’s Skypark hosts a Halloween food truck lineup that include Pana, Saucey’z, Taquizas Gabriel, Scrumptious Fish & Chips and Aunt LaLi’s — and everyone dressed in a costume gets a treat from the food trucks. Live music by Cringe provides the soundtrack.

— Haneen Zain


A promotional photo for writer Lara Vapnyar's appearance at Bookshop Santa Cruz

Lara Vapnyar: The 2021 Living Writers Series presented by the UCSC Literature Department and Creative Writing Program is focusing this fall on writers from the non-English-speaking world. This week, the series continues with Russian-born fiction writer Lara Vapnyar, who has written novels and short stories in Russian and English. The former Guggenheim fellow will discuss her latest book, “Divide Me By Zero,” in a virtual online event sponsored by the Humanities Institute at UCSC and by Bookshop Santa Cruz. It gets started at 5:15 p.m. Thursday.

Charles Hood: Naturalist, photographer and essayist Charles Hood has opened eyes with his books “A Californian’s Guide to the Birds Among Us” and “A Californian’s Guide to the Mammals Among Us.” Hood’s latest book, “A Salad Only the Devil Would Eat: The Joys of Ugly Nature” is a collection of his observations on the overlooked and underappreciated parts of nature. Hood will be in conversation with novelist Jonathan Franzen at the Colligan Theater in an event sponsored by Catamaran, followed by an outdoor reception. $16 gets you a copy of the book and two tickets to the event. Things get started at 6 p.m.

Misty Copeland: She is one of America’s most accomplished and admired ballerinas, and Misty Copeland is an author as well. In this ticketed virtual event, Copeland discusses her new book, “Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy,” her story of becoming the first Black female principal dancer in the 75-year history of the American Ballet Theatre. Sponsored by the Tannery World Dance & Cultural Center and the local chapter of the NAACP, Copeland will be joined by TWDCC artistic director Mischa Scott. A $23 ticket gets you access to the conversation and a copy of the book, Nov. 4 at 5 p.m.

— Wallace Baine


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